It may seem as if scoring well on the math section of the GRE may require genius-level math knowledge. But that’s not really true. Try out our tips for the GRE Math, and you may do a lot better!
The GRE has a Quantitative section that requires you to have a solid knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, and geometry. You need to be able to analyze data and solve problems. The question types will include data interpretation, problem-solving, and quantitative comparisons. You will have to deal with data tables and graphs, while also handle basic statistics.
All that seems somewhat intimidating, especially when you consider that the Quant (math) section comes with 2 sections with 20 questions. You only have just 35 minutes to complete each section. Now, even if you’re not a math genius, you can quickly figure out that you have less than 2 minutes for each question.
Then you may have also heard that some of the questions are tricky, with sly wording that may mislead you. All in all, it can be a big mess especially when it’s been a long while since you’ve taken an actual math class.
Still, it’s possible to do well, especially if you take your GRE review seriously. Focus on the Quant portion if that’s the area that’s troubling you.
It will also help you out if you heed the following tips offered by so many experts on the GRE.
1. Take 2 Minutes at the Most for Each Question
The good news is that many of the questions won’t take you too long to answer. But some are tricky, and you may be bogged down trying to do long calculations and taking too much time.
So, do yourself a favor and limit yourself to just 2 minutes for each question. Once you reach the 2-minute mark for a question, take your best guess and move on to the next question.
2. Don’t Read the Question Too Quickly
Just because you’re under time constraints doesn’t mean you can just glance at the question. Read every word, as it’s entirely possible that you’ll miss a word that would have led you to the right answer. You have to understand the question first before you can answer it, and that starts with reading the question in its entirety.
3. Take Note of All the Relevant Information Offered in the Quant Comp Section
Use a scratchpad to note down the key numbers, phrases, and variables mentioned in the problem. The Quant Comp section is quite different from the Problem-Solving section. With the Quant Comp section, you’re not likely to do any sort of math at all. You will, instead, be tested on your logical reasoning.
4. Be Mindful about Using the Calculator
Sure, you’re able to use a calculator when you’re taking the GRE. But in most cases, you actually won’t need to use it anyway. In fact, you may be better off not using the calculator for most Quant questions, since pressing all those buttons may cost you too much time.
The fact of the matter is that in most cases, you’re being tested on how you can think logically. That means most math problems only involve simple calculations.
5. Substitute Numbers for Variables
Whenever you’re offered vague variables, try to get a clearer picture by substituting small numbers like 3 or 5 when you’re solving the problems. That way, the numbers can make the entire math scenario easier to picture in your mind.
6. Try the Back-solving Approach instead of Doing Long Calculations
This is a great alternative if your answer choices include numbers and you’re in the Problem-Solving section of the Quant. You just plug in the answer choices one by one, and see which answer fits. This is often faster than manipulating the equation and doing calculations with your computer.
Some experts even say that you should start plugging in the letters B and D in the possible answer choices. More often than not, the right answer is B or D, instead of A or C.
7. Be Methodical
If you review for your GRE math properly, you should be able to develop an approach for each type of math question. Find an approach that works for you for each question. That way, you won’t have to fumble trying to find the right approach for each question. You already have a method you can rely on.
However, with the more difficult questions, you do have to check out the problem from all angles. You can then determine if your regular approach will work, or if it will need a fresh angle.
8. Be Mindful when Analyzing Tables and Graphs
The Data Interpretation questions can lead to a lot of incorrect answers if you’re not careful. These questions also need you to take some time with the details of the problems. If you see tables and graphs, make sure you read the titles, units, and labels. Also, note the general trends in these visual representations, and find out how the variables are interrelated.
Your best bet is to try to get a comprehensive understanding of the data, starting with the general conclusions you can draw. That way, you’re more likely to arrive at the correct answer to the question.
9. Don’t Assume That Diagrams are Accurate
When you have a drawing of a triangle with measurements for 2 of the sides, the triangle may also be drawn with a right angle. But with just the measurement of 2 sides, nothing else in the diagram assures you that the triangle is actually a right triangle.
A lot of “tricky” geometry questions use this style of deception. That’s why you have to make sure that everything is actually fixed and specified. Make sure of what you really know, based on the information on the diagram.
Sure, being a math genius can help with the GRE Quant section. But it’s not an absolute requirement. Just practice a lot, remember the basic formulas, and understand each question to get the right answer!